Financing tips

The 10 Biggest Misconceptions about Scholarships

Only one in eight secondary school graduates with good grades apply for scholarships. This is because many have misconceptions about getting funding. Here are some of the common misconceptions.
Change your view on scholarships
Change your view on scholarships

1. Scholarships are only for the gifted

Many secondary school students believe this is true. As a result they are put off from applying for funding. But the assumption is not true. There are many organisations that award scholarships, but only a small percentage do so on the basis of outstanding academic achievement.

Most use different criteria for choosing a candidate. This could be anything from your father's occupation, to your place of residence. The best advice is to carefully check the selection criteria of the scholarships that interest you.

2. There are not many scholarships available

The big scholarship awarding organisations are the most widely known. As a result they receive the most applications. But there are more than 8,000 organisations in the EU which award scholarships to students or doctoral candidates. And many of them suffer from a lack of candidates.

Unless you research everything that is available, you will not know if there is something suitable for your circumstances.

3. You must be socially committed

This misconception is also common as it is the main selection criteria at some larger organisations. While social commitment is a criteria for some scholarships there are just as many where it has no relevance. Therefore you can still get a scholarship even if you are not yet involved in community work.

4. The funding will not be enough

The amount of funding available varies greatly, depending on the scholarship. Grant amounts range from a one-time payment of a few hundred Euros, to monthly payments of 1,500 Euro. Typically the funding available for doctoral candidates is much higher.

Some organisations award partial scholarships, but they allow you to get another scholarship or loan to make up the difference. Or you can get a part-time job.

5. It’s time-consuming, and the outcome is uncertain

In the past finding suitable scholarships was difficult. You had use various different resources, many of which were incomplete.

Creating a profile at, on the other hand, only takes a few minutes. Once done you will get an overview of the scholarships that match your profile. This reduces the amount of time you have to spend researching.

6. Applying for a scholarship takes too long

In reality many of the application processes are simple. Often they are done by email and require less information than when you apply for a job. And if you are successful you will be able to concentrate on your studies, rather than worrying about your finances. In that context, the time it takes to apply is not great.

That said there are some scholarships that require more detail, including references or comprehensive CVs. In our section about application forms you will find advice and information on how to prepare your application form quickly.

7. There are lots of applicants so my chances are slim

Many students apply for the largest and best-known scholarships because they receive the most publicity.

But smaller organisations often complain that they do not get enough candidates. As you go through your list of results at, you will find scholarships that are less competitive.

8. I must be in need to receive a scholarship.

This misconception is also common among students, and it prevents many from making an application. But the selection criteria for scholarships vary greatly. Some exist to help students who are most in need, but others have different goals. For example, the scholarship might want to promote a particular profession, or support students from a specific district. The best advice is to get an overview of all the scholarships that are available, even if you come from a wealthy background.

9. Scholarships are only awarded at the beginning of a course

There are many scholarships that are specifically awarded to students with a degree. But for most organisations, the stage of study is not relevant. This means it is worthwhile finding out about scholarships, even if you are in the last semester of your studies.

10. Scholarships are only available for living expenses

In addition to grants for living expenses there are also scholarships for books, money, property, travel expenses and printing costs. Also you can find tuition scholarships and scholarships for internships, as well as for other types of support. And many organisations provide scholarships for studies or internships abroad, as well as for language courses, research stays, and reconnaissance trips. So there is a scholarship for almost every student need.